Hannah Barry Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by the New York-based artist Wyatt Kahn. Composed of interlocking panels of canvas canvas stretched over wood that are bolted together, the paintings exhibited here constitute the latest stage of the artist’s exploration into the compositional elements of line, space and form.
Not only do these paintings break out of the rectangle of traditional painting, but the dynamism of their composition further undermines expected notions of symmetrical balance or harmonised identity. Kahn’s compositions are characterised by an absent or displaced centre. This lends the paintings a sense of outward acceleration away from the imagined focal point. The effect is to exaggerate the viewer’s impression of contingency, and physicality. We are encouraged to incorporate the space around and between the panels into our understanding of the painting as a whole, and to appreciate this exhibition as not only a collection of independent works but as a constellation of related forms.
Kahn’s work draws on, and is spurred on by, juxtaposing organic imagery such human limbs, rock formations and microscopic organisms with a tradition of geometric abstraction stretching back to early modernism via constructivism and minimalism. Sharing with these movements a determination to foreground a work’s essential compositional elements, Kahn’s practice is instead focused on his active engagement with the physical circumstances of his paintings’ creation and exhibition. The gaps of varying width between the interconnecting panels, for example, allow the viewer to see through to the supporting wall and thereby beyond the painting. The effect disrupts any sense of the artwork as entirely independent of its surroundings.